North Korea seems to be shrouded in mystery, misinformation and misery, yet it can’t help but fascinate the curious among us. Tourism is restricted to heavily controlled excursions, so not a lot is known about the country and its people beyond what the propaganda machine wants you to know. Here are some bizarre cultural tidbits that have been uncovered about North Korea, and many of them are pretty shocking.
Here’s a transcript of the video:
George W. Bush called it the “axis of evil” and Condoleeza Rice referred to it as an “outpost of tyranny.” Cut off from the internet and with many horrible human rights violations we bring you 12 crazy things you never knew about North Korea.
1. Weed Is Legal There
There’s no law against the sale or consumption of “leaf tobacco” in North Korea. Cannabis grows freely by the roadside throughout the country and is particularly popular with young soldiers who prefer it over local cigarettes.
2. Hairstyles Are Restricted
Women are supposed to emulate the basic bob worn by the Supreme Leader’s wife (Ri Sol-ju). Men are forbidden to exceed 2cm in length, and are encouraged to copy Kim Jong-un’s ‘do (visual). Offenders may be shorn on the spot by scissor-wielding authorities.
3. They Have Their Own Calendar
It’s not 2016 in North Korea. It’s 105. Their Juche calendar started the count anew based on Kim Il-sung’s birth date in 1912.
4. The “Three Generations of Punishment” Rule
Someone who violates the law isn’t just punished – their entire family is, too. Knowing you’ll be sending grandma to the slammer and your kid to a prison work camp might make you think twice about doing a bad deed.
5. Porn Is Prohibited
There are reports saying some offenders have been executed for this offense. Most North Koreans have no access to the Internet but often share films and music on USB sticks.
6. There’s a North Korean Version of Godzilla
Kim Jong-Il was a big movie buff so he kidnapped South Korean director Shin Sang-ok and forced him to churn out a few films, including a propaganda-filled North Korean version of Godzilla.
7. Kim Jong-un is much like Lord Bolton
When Kim Jong-un suspected his uncle Jang-Song Thaek of attempting to overthrow the state in 2012, he supposedly had him stripped naked and fed to 120 hungry hounds that hadn’t been fed for several days.
8. North Korea Holds Farcical Elections Every 5 Years
There’s only ever one name on the ballot but citizens are permitted to veto said candidate by publicly crossing the name out – of course at the risk of three generations of punishment.
9. North Korea Has a 100% Literacy Rate
That’s better than America’s functional literacy rate is 85%. They take education seriously there, which includes a three-year course on the history of Kim Jong-un, in addition to a 160-hour course on Kim Il Sung and 148 hours on Kim Jong Il. The indoctrination starts in kindergarten – or should we call that Kim-dergarten.
10. North Koreans Are 2 Inches Shorter Than South Koreans
This is attributed to the relative poverty of the northern nation. It is said that 6 million citizens don’t get sufficient food and a third of the children have chronic malnutrition.
11. North Korea Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World
It’s been the leader on the most corrupt nations list for several years running by the annual Corruption Perceptions Index, which evaluates based on levels of bribery, counterfeit medicine, and backdoor payments among other forms of corruption.
12. Don’t steal the words from Kim’s mouth
Whilst visiting North Korea, U.S. student Otto Warmbier stole a banner with a political slogan from his hotel. He was caught and has been sentenced to 15 years hard labor in a North Korean Prison Camp.
Which one of these bizarre things surprised you the most?
Discuss in the comments.